Archive for September, 2013
Here’s the latest from The Associated Press on the Alex Rodriguez situation.
The New York Yankees third baseman was wearing a business suit and accompanied by lawyers when he arrived for the session at Major League Baseball’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan.
A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez was suspended Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract. Because he’s a first offender under the drug program and the players’ association filed a grievance to force an appeal, a suspension can’t start until it is upheld by an arbitrator.
The union argues the discipline is without just cause and is excessive. If the case doesn’t settle, a decision by Horowitz is expected this winter.
Rodriguez was among 14 players penalized by MLB this year following the sport’s investigation of Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. The others accepted their penalties, including former NL MVP Ryan Braun, who missed the season’s final 65 games.
Biogenesis head Anthony Bosch was at the hearing to testify — a publicist released a photo of him in a hallway outside MLB’s conference rooms.
In Florida, state authorities said they had started a criminal investigation of the clinic.
“A subpoena was issued for documents, and we are looking into several areas of state interest,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Existence of the state prosecutors’ criminal subpoena was disclosed at a recent hearing in MLB’s lawsuit in Miami against Biogenesis, also pending in Miami-Dade County court. It’s not known whom the subpoena targeted or what specific documents are being sought.
A federal probe involves the sources of drugs the clinic is accused of selling to players.
Associated Press photo
A-Rod lawyer: “It went well” • 09.30.13
I got back to New York from Houston around noon today, and I elected not to join the sidewalk crew waiting for Alex Rodriguez and his legal team to emerge from the Major League Baseball offices. Looks like that was the right call. Apparently their post hearing comments were limited to this:
Alex Rodriguez: “Thank you, thank you, great, thank you.”
Joe Tacopina: “It went well.”
The hearing continues tomorrow. But obviously A-Rod and his team have paint a pretty clear picture of what’s going on behind those closed doors.
Up next for Cano: Vacation • 09.30.13
But as we wrap up the month of September, it’s important to remember that the World Series doesn’t start until October 23. That’s more than three weeks away, and real free agency — players being allowed to sign with other clubs — doesn’t begin until six days after the World Series ends.
If the World Series goes seven games, free agency won’t truly begin until the middle of the first week of November.
In other words, it’s going to be a while.
“Now is when the vacation starts,” Robinson Cano said. “And then later on, sit with family and see what decision we’re going to make and see what’s going to happen. … “This is my first time in this kind of process. I just have to wait until next month and see if it’s stressful how it is. I cannot tell you if it’s something (to be) excited or what it is.”
Obviously some offseason maneuvering will happen before players hit the open market — Joe Girardi, for example, could be re-signed by then — but an early end to the season means a long wait for what’s next. The Yankees could re-sign Cano before he hits the open market, but all indications are that the two sides are far apart, and it’s going to take something overwhelming to keep Cano from testing the waters.
How could Cano vacation at a time like this? Well, why wouldn’t he? Last night he was asked whether he’s willing to wait two months or more before making a decision.
“Yeah,” he said. “What else are you going to do?”
He was also asked if an opportunity like this — to let the market dictate his full value — is what he’s worked for all of these years. Hasn’t the preparation and production simply led him to this moment?
“That’s not a thing that you work on and play this game (for),” he said. “When you like this game, you play this game and you never think about the money. You’ve got to go through a process — minor leagues, and then you hope to make it to the big leagues — and when you make it, all that’s on your mind is picturing myself to be able to play here for a lot of years. I was here with Jeter and A-Rod, Mariano, Posada, Bernie, Giambi, all those guys. All your mind is, I want to be one of them one day and be able to stay in the game for so long.”
He’s stayed in the game long enough. Now it’s time to wait a little longer.
Associated Press photo
A bit of not-Yankee-specific news in the middle of the day: Bud Selig has named Rob Manfred the COO of Major League Baseball, which seems to set Manfred as the clear favorite to replace Selig as commissioner in 2015. Here’s the announcement from the league:
Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig has begun the transition process in preparation for his retirement in January 2015 by appointing Robert D. Manfred, Jr. as the new Chief Operating Officer of Major League Baseball, he announced today. The promotion is effective immediately.
Manfred, who has worked for Major League Baseball since 1998, most recently served as Executive Vice President for Economics & League Affairs, responsible for major economic matters such as revenue sharing and the debt service rule, as well as franchise-specific matters involving the 30 Major League Clubs. From 1998-2012, he was MLB’s Executive Vice President for Labor Relations & Human Resources. In both capacities, Manfred has managed all issues related to collective bargaining with the Major League Baseball Players Association, including the successful renewals of the Basic Agreement in 2002, 2006 and 2011. Manfred works closely with Club management executives and has addressed a variety of the industry’s economic, governance and policy issues, including the sport’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The appointment of a Chief Operating Officer reorganizes Central Baseball’s senior management structure. In preparing for his retirement, Selig will continue to lead the industry and will focus on significant Baseball policy matters. As a part of the transition, Manfred will now oversee day-to-day management of the Commissioner’s Office in New York.
“The reorganization of our management team will facilitate an orderly transition and will position Major League Baseball’s operations for sustained prosperity well into the future,” Commissioner Selig said. “I have the utmost confidence in Rob to excel at his expanded duties and to help the industry maintain its extraordinary growth and vitality.
“Rob has tremendous institutional knowledge and first-hand experience with many of our most complex matters, including labor, revenue sharing, competitive balance and the most comprehensive drug program in American professional sports. I am pleased that I will work with him even more closely in the near future.”
Prior to joining MLB full-time in 1998, Manfred was a partner in the Labor and Employment Law section of the firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, with which he served Baseball as outside counsel. Manfred, 55, is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. He and his wife, Colleen, have four children.
Manfred said: “I thank Commissioner Selig for placing his faith in me. The opportunity to serve the Clubs in this new position is a distinct honor. I have taken great pride in working closely with the Commissioner and supporting the many outstanding initiatives implemented during his tenure. All of us at Major League Baseball look forward to assisting Commissioner Selig during his transition process in preparation for his retirement.”
Associated Press photo
The Yankees first free agent decision won’t involve Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson or Hiroki Kuroda. It will be their manager: Deciding whether the team wants Joe Girardi back, and whether Girardi wants to come back.
“It comes down to family,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about it, but we’ll sit down and actually have a real pow-wow around the dinner table probably is what we’ll do, and then we’ll go from there.”
Girardi’s options might have opened today when the Cubs fired Dale Sveum, but surprisingly, Girardi downplayed his Chicago connections yesterday. I say it was surprising largely from a negotiation standpoint. You’d think Girardi would could at least use Chicago as leverage with the Yankees, but he did not sound especially interested in going back to the area where he grew up, went to college and made his Major League debut.
“Our home has been here (in Westchester),” Girardi said. “My kids are engrossed in schools here. We haven’t been to Chicago since — haven’t lived there since 2006. The only person who’s really there, my brother’s still there, a couple brothers are there, (but) my father’s gone, my mother’s gone. There’s not as much there as there used to be.”
Indications are that the Yankees like Girardi, and even in this non-playoff season he is surely going to appear on some Manager of the Year ballots. Girardi is a by-the-book kind of manager, and the Yankees seem to appreciate that he has a calculated reason for his decisions.
As for Girardi’s side of the decision, he opened the possibility of doing something outside of baseball, possibly a return to broadcasting — perhaps as a replacement for Tim McCarver on FOX? — but Girardi also admitted that he hasn’t really envisioned himself doing anything other than managing next year. It also seems to be worth noting that his kids are 14, 11 and 7 years old now, old enough that uprooting the family might be a little more difficult than in the past. TV might not require such a move out of the New York area.
“I have to make sure that everyone is taken care of,” Girardi said. “… I wouldn’t think (debating a decision) would go too long. It’s not my personality to drag things out. I’m always a guy that likes to know what I’m going to do the next day.”
Concerned the Yankees won’t be good enough to win next season?
“There’s no challenge that really scares me, that I would ever shy away from, so that has very little impact on it whatsoever. … It’s not like you’re cutting the payroll down to $60 million. It’s still a pretty high number. There’s a substantial amount of money coming off the books too just because of free agency and some players retiring. I’m sure it will be a busy winter, but a good winter.”
Do you think the front office values your opinion in the offseason?
“I’m at the Winter Meetings, and there’s discussions about what we’re trying to do, and I’m able to voice my opinion. I’ve always been able to voice my opinion. That’s never ever been a problem. There are going to be things, always, that people don’t agree on. I’m okay with that. My job is to manage the players that I’m given, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Have you enjoyed all that comes with being manager of the Yankees?
“I’ve really enjoyed it. You learn a lot about yourself as a person. You learn a lot about what it’s like to sit in the chair. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve really enjoyed my time here, as a player, as a broadcaster, as a manager. As someone who wasn’t sure about New York when I came, it’s a wonderful place. … I think the competitiveness is here on a yearly basis, a weekly basis, a daily basis. There’s no doubt about it. And there’s expectations no matter what, which I’ve always had, too. So there is definitely a match there.”
Harder to replace Mike Stanley at catcher or Joe Torre as manager?
“Initially, it was probably Mike Stanley. There was a lot more heat on me following Mike Stanley, it seemed like, than following Joe Torre in the beginning. I’ve never been booed like that. I went to the FanFest and got booed. I was like, ‘Man, I haven’t even done anything yet!’ I got booed at the Welcome Home Dinner. It took about a month and a half. … I think it was when Doc Gooden threw his no-hitter (that opinion turned). It just kind of seemed to change. No, Joe Girardi wasn’t going to hit home runs like Mike Stanley did, but he was there for a different purpose. I tried the first month, but it didn’t work real well.”
Given the potential volatility of this job, surprised to be here this long?
“I didn’t take the job to stay here a year. I envisioned that I would be here. I did. I’m a guy that’s a creature of habit and thinks that things are going to be that way for a long, long time. You can go back to when I was a player, I thought I would be in one place for a long time and that changed a number of times. That’s just how I think.”
Associated Press photos
Up next for A-Rod: Today’s appeal hearing • 09.30.13
Today is Day 1 of Alex Rodriguez’s appeal hearing. It’s expected to last several days while Rodriguez’s lawyers argue against Major League Baseball, each side pleading its case to an independent arbitrator who will decide whether Rodriguez serves all, none or part of a 211-game suspension stemming from his connection to the Biogenesis clinic.
“I’ll be there every day,” Rodriguez said. “I’m fighting for my life and my whole legacy. I should be there.”
This hearing will determine how much Rodriguez is allowed to play — and how much the Yankees have to pay — next season. The ramifications are obvious for both the player and the team, a pivotal offseason event beginning on the offseason’s very first day.
“Obviously this is going to be a grueling process all the way through,” Rodriguez said. “(After) it’s completely over, I told you guys (during a rehab assignment) in Trenton that you’ll hear the full story when the time is right for me. That time is not just now.”
It’s interesting that Rodriguez actually had a sort of return-to-form season before hamstring and calf injuries sapped his power and mobility down the stretch. He was plenty productive for about a month and a half, suggesting he could be a legitimate help to the Yankees next season. But at what cost? The Yankees need offensive help, and Rodriguez might be able to provide it, but it’s still pretty easy to think the Yankees would be better off getting his contract off the books and searching for a third baseman fill-in elsewhere.
“I think I was pleasantly surprised while I was healthy the first month,” Rodriguez said. “I was able to move around well at third, drive the ball, improve my hitting against right-handed (pitchers), hit balls that are 95-plus; all things I wasn’t able to do the year before. Those things, you build on those. I look forward to immediately getting into the hard-core workouts to help this team win again.”
These next few days will determine whether Rodriguez is actually allowed to do that.
Associated Press photo
What’s next? • 09.30.13
Mariano Rivera seemed at peace with it all, and maybe that’s to be expected. He’s always been calm and controlled at the end.
“I would say we worked hard the whole year,” he said. “Now, it’s over. There’s a sense of relief, yes. … Definitely, I’ve been ready for this moment. I’m OK with it. I’m happy with it. Move on.”
For some, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Tonight the Rays and Rangers play a tiebreaker to determine which team plays a wild-card play-in game on Wednesday. It’s not an ideal situation for either team, but it’s a better situation than the Yankees are in right now. They finished tied with the Orioles for third place in the American League East, a full six games out of the wild card. The Royals had a better record than the Yankees.
There were positives to this season, and a case could be made that the Yankees overachieved considering all the injuries. Of course, a case could also be made that the Yankees were ill-prepared — in terms of depth and minor league talent — to deal with those injuries. And certainly we’ll spend some time this winter looking back at the things that went wrong along the way. Today, though, we follow Rivera’s lead and move on into the uncertainty of this offseason.
“I don’t know who’s going to be here next year,” Derek Jeter said. “I have no idea. I can’t comment on next year. I don’t even know if the manager and coaches are free agents too, so anything I would say about next year would be premature and speculation.”
Truth is, there aren’t many answers about next season. So how do we start dealing with the offseason’s many questions? Well, it starts today.
• Joe Girardi will meet with ownership in the next few days to discuss whether or not he returns at Yankees manager. Larry Rothschild’s contract also expires this offseason, and the Yankees seem to want him back.
• Free agency will pluck a group of key Yankees off the roster. Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda are the headliners, but Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Lyle Overbay — among others — will also need to be replaced one way or another. This is going to take a while, though.
• Dave Robertson and Brett Gardner are due for arbitration raises, Ivan Nova and Shawn Kelley are also arb-eligible for the first time, and the Yankees will have to make decisions about whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible guys like Chris Stewart, David Huff and Jayson Nix.
• Slade Heathcott and Chase Whitley are among the prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter.
• Winter ball will start in October, and Dellin Betances has asked the Yankees to let him play in the Dominican Republic so that he can keep throwing and stay sharp. Eduardo Nunez is also planning to play winter ball, but he said he’s not sure yet whether he should focus on shortstop, second base or third base. Cesar Cabral has also played winter ball in the past, and Vidal Nuno is heading to the Arizona Fall League. By spring training, each of those four could be legitimate big league options.
Point is, it’s a long offseason, and it’s going to be even longer than usual for the Yankees. There’s also a lot to be done, with huge decisions to make and key players coming and going. For Rivera there may be a sense of relief. For everyone else, it seems more like uncertainty.
“We’ll see,” Jeter said. “There’s a lot of ifs and questions; who’s coming back and who’s not coming back. I have no idea. It would be unfair to even speculate.”
Of course, that won’t stop us. And we’ll have plenty of time to do it.
Chat tomorrow: I suppose we can start some of the speculation tomorrow. Let’s do a chat at noon on Tuesday. Hope you guys can stop by for a while. Obviously there’s plenty to discuss.
Associated Press photos
In the past week or so, there were moments that gave this Yankees season some sense of a happy ending. Mariano Rivera had his emotional farewell moment at Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte pitched a complete game in the final start of his career. Even today, the Yankees played what should have been an exciting game to finish off the season with an extra-inning win and a three-game sweep.
There were nice moments, happy memories, but still no sense of satisfaction.
“There were memorable festivities,” Derek Jeter said. “Andy and Mo, it goes without saying how special that was. But on the field wasn’t memorable.”
I doubt there was anything about the Yankees postgame clubhouse that would shock you. Just a lot of hugs and handshakes, long-time teammates saying goodbye for now, and relatively new guys showing some appreciation to the guys who have been around for a long time. This ending wasn’t abrupt. It wasn’t stunning. Some of the guys who live in Texas aren’t even going back to New York. They’re simply driving home, having already packed up their things for the offseason.
“No sadness at all,” Rivera said. “I think I did everything that I could, worked as hard as I had to. We fell short. You can’t do nothing against that.”
No, you can’t. Nothing about today was going to change the reality of what’s coming in the next month of postseason baseball, or the next four months of offseason maneuvering. The season was over before the Yankees came to Texas, and there was nothing that one more Rivera ceremony and one more win could do to change that.
“The baseball Gods didn’t want to let Mo and Andy go home,” Girardi said. “We thought we’d play as long as we could.”
That’s the nice way to think of it. And for the sake of one last happy memory, let’s leave it at that.
• As his final retirement gift, Rivera was given a legitimately cool painting by a Texas artist who apparently specializes in sports paintings. Roger Clemens and Joe Torre were both on hand and spoke about Rivera. “It was great,” Rivera said. “Every time that I have Mr. Torre around, it’s great for me. And seeing Clemens was outstanding, also.”
• Yes, Clemens and Pettitte saw one another and hugged on the field. Pettitte had said in the days leading up to this that even after all the recent drama of their relationship, he would be happy to see Clemens.
• Jeter said he’s made no decisions concerning his player option for next season. “Our season just ended right now, so I’ve given no thought to the offseason,” he said. Jeter does expect to have a normal offseason that will leave him 100 percent for spring training.
• Not that anyone was expecting breaking news from Robinson Cano, but he said basically nothing about his upcoming free agency, only that he’s looking forward to getting back to the Dominican Republic to spend some time with family before making a decision. And he’s in no rush, even if this takes several months. “What else are you going to do?” he said.
• Jayson Nix was actually the Yankees manager today, but he said the early pitching decisions were pretty much mapped out ahead of time, and really his only managerial moves were giving a few guys the green light or the red light on the bases. He wanted to try a hit and run at some point, but never really got the chance. “He quit after nine innings,” Girardi said. “So we’re going to send him to instructional ball so he can lengthen out his career.”
• Girardi said he offered the job to Rivera and Pettitte, but neither wanted to do it. He then went to Nix because it seems like Nix might be the kind of guy to think about managing some day, but Nix said postgame that — for right now — he doesn’t really think he’d ever want to get into managing. Obviously that’s a decision for some day in the distant future.
• Another pretty good outing by David Huff. This was his second start of the season — the first was a completely debacle — and he tied a career-high with seven strikeouts. He held the Astros to just one run on three hits and no walks through five innings.
• Eduardo Nunez had three hits including two doubles and got his season slash line up to .260/.307/.372 after particularly bad start to the season. Of Yankees who played in at least 25 games, Nunez’s batting average was the fourth highest behind Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki.
• David Adams had his first career triple, J.R. Murphy had his first career RBI, and Dellin Betances set career-highs in innings pitched (2.1) and strikeouts (4). He retired all seven batters he faced and struck out the side in the ninth.
• The Yankees pitching staff tied a franchise record with 19 strikeouts today. They struck out 14 through nine innings, which tied a season-high (also July 14 against the Twins). The last time the Yankees had 19 strikeouts in a game was April 19, 2001 in Toronto in 17 innings. They also reached that number in 15 innings against the White Sox in 1987.
• Last time the Yankees played extra innings in their season finale was that memorable final day of the 2011 season when the Rays walked off against the Yankees.
• The Yankees are now 6-0 all-time in Houston, having previously swept a three-game series here in 2008. They are 13-2 all-time against the Astros and have won 12 of their last 13 against them.
• Final word might as well go to Jeter: “We’ve had questions before. There’s been questions most offseasons. There might be a few more this year, but there’s been years when there’s been a lot of guys we weren’t sure were coming back. There’s been times when Mr. T was a free agent and we didn’t know if he was coming back, and he ended up not coming back. So you never know what’s going to happen. That’s why I don’t even try to speculate.”
Associated Press photos
Yankees finish season with extra-inning win • 09.29.13
It took a while, but the Yankees season has ended. A four-run 14th inning left the Yankees with a 5-1 win in their season finale, finishing off a Houston sweep to finish the season 85-77, their lowest winning percentage since 1993. Mark Reynolds homered to break a one-run tie in the final inning, and the Yankees offense added on from there to put things well out of reach. Eduardo Nunez finished with three hits. Curtis Granderson, Zoilo Almonte and Brendan Ryan had two hits apiece.
Starting pitcher David Huff allowed one run through five innings and might have pitched his way into consideration for a job next season. Take away his one brutal spot start against Boston — nine runs in 3.1 innings — and Huff had a 2.37 ERA in nine appearances since joining the Yankees full-time in mid-August. He’s a lefty with experience as both a starter and a reliever, and the Yankees are losing three-fifths of their rotation and their top left-handed reliever to free agency. He’s at least a candidate. Huff settled for a no-decision today because the Yankees offense had a quiet afternoon until the 14th. Brett Marshall (two innings, three strikeouts), Dellin Betances (2.1 innings, four strikeouts), Preston Claiborne (two outs, one strikeout), David Phelps (one inning, two strikeouts) and Matt Daley (two innings, two strikeouts) provided scoreless relief before Dave Robertson closed out the win.
Associated Press photo
Game 162: Yankees at Astros • 09.29.13
Eduardo Nunez 3B
J.R. Murphy C
Curtis Granderson CF
Vernon Wells LF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Travis Hafner DH
David Adams 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Zoilo Almonte RF
LHP David Huff (3-1, 6.06)
Huff has never faced any of the Astros
Jonathan Villar SS
Jose Altuve 2B
Matt Dominguez 3B
Chris Carter 1B
J.D. Martinez RF
Brandon Laird DH
Trevor Crowe CF
Carlos Corporan C
Jake Elmore LF
LHP Erik Bedard (4-12, 4.81)
Bedard vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 2:10 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: Another rainy day, another game with the roof closed. Been like this most of the time here in Houston.
UMPIRES: HP Bill Miller, 1B Gary Cederstrom, 2B Kerwin Danley, 3B Vic Carapazza
HOW DEEP CAN HUFF GO? The 2013 Yankees pitching staff has seven complete games (Nova-3, Sabathia-2, Kuroda-1 and Pettitte-1), marking the most for the club since having eight in the 2005 season (Johnson-4, Mussina-2, Pavano-1, Small-1).
MORE MO: The YES Network will premiere a special entitled “Mo Says Goodbye to New York” tonight at 7:30 ET.?The two-hour special will consist of the eighth and ninth innings from Mariano Rivera’s final Yankee Stadium appearance on Thursday. In addition, the special will include Rivera’s on-field post-game interview, events immediately following the conclusion of the game and YES’ post-game show that evening which included Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Joe Girardi press conferences, a Derek Jeter interview and more.
ON THIS DATE: On September 29, 1987, Don Mattingly hit his sixth grand slam of the season, setting a Major League record. Travis Hafner tied that record almost 20 years later with six grand slams in 2006.
UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.: Pretty solid final pregame ceremony for Rivera. The Astros gave him a legitimately cool painting, and Rivera apologized to the fans and the Astros for not playing this weekend. “I want to leave with the game that I played Thursday at Yankee Stadium,” he said. “I want to keep that memory in my mind.”
UPDATE, 3:20 p.m.: Huff pitching pretty well. He allowed a run in the first inning, but he’s through the fourth without allowing another.
UPDATE, 3:33 p.m.: Couple of strikeouts for Huff and he’s through five innings, still trailing 1-0.
UPDATE, 3:40 p.m.: Houston native Brett Marshall in the game for the Yankees. He was badly hoping to pitch this series.